SA's Simon sitting pretty at British Masters
South African Ashleigh Simon hit a six-under-par 66 at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on Friday to take a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters.
The 23-year-old from Johannesburg began the day three behind the overnight co-leaders, but birdied the third and then picked up seven shots in six holes from the fifth, with five birdies followed by an eagle at the 10th.
That put her at eight under for the day and 11 under overall, but she then dropped two shots on holes 12 and 13.
Another eagle chance at the 14th fell just short and the resultant birdie was countered by a three-putt bogey at the last, but it was enough to open up a two stroke lead at nine under par.
"Everything seemed to be on. I hit a lot of good shots but had to convert the putts. It was mainly the putting, I felt really confident," said Simon, the 2011 Portugal Ladies Open champion.
"The greens here are so good you just have to pick your line and trust it. It makes it a lot easier to putt on greens when they are so good."
First round co-leader Lydia Hall of Wales followed her opening day 66 with a 71 to end seven under, alongside Beth Allen of the United States, who shot a second-round of 69.
Hall, who is targeting her maiden win in her fifth season on the Ladies European Tour, had four birdies against three bogeys and was only one shot off the lead before she drove her ball into the lake in front of the par-four 17th green.
"It was a tough day," said the 24-year-old from Bridgend, referring to the windy conditions. "It was a real grind out there and just had to get the ball in the middle of the green and two putts."
With six birdies and one bogey on the card, Allen's challenge could have been even better had she not double bogeyed the fourth.
"It was pretty solid apart from one hole but I've been putting well for a change, which was good," said the 30-year-old Californian, yet to win, in her fifth season on the Ladies European Tour.
Frenchwomen Julie Greciet and Gwladys Nocera share fourth place on five under with Sweden's Michaela Parmlid, while Esther Choe of the USA and Thailand's Nontaya Srisawang are joint seventh on four under.
First-round co-leader Henrietta Zuel ended the day six shots off the lead amongst a group of eight players in a share of ninth at three under, while fellow first round co-leader Laura Davies is eight shots back going into the final round.
Meanwhile Britain's rising star Charley Hull, aged 16, not only made the cut, but did so in style by three shots, wowing the crowds with a magnificent putt to save par on the 17th green.
The eagerly anticipated final round gets under way at 8.30am at the Buckinghamshire on Saturday, with the prize giving scheduled for 5pm.